Thursday, September 26, 2013

Last call in the "uncertain" Life

Life is as “uncertain” as a dice not knowing what number you will get. Life sometimes is more “uncertain” that it sometimes throws a number not on any faces of the dice. You are left confused and conflicted with the reality that you refuse to accept it. You thought that you have considered all probable scenarios; your plans so solid that you are led to believe that you are aware of all possible outcomes of the game. But in the end, the least imagined chance takes place and leaves you in a state of shock making you a fool, laughed by the cruel endeavors of fate.

On Tuesday, the 6th of August 2013, I was bored without any work to do in office and was passing time in the cafeteria sipping coffee. Without much reason like any other day, I dialed his number and waited. He picked up the phone shortly and answered “Thambi! Ennaya?” in his usual caring voice. I asked him the de facto question for I don’t remember ever to have started the calls with him without those words, “Enna Perippa, enna panreenga?” (Perippa, What are you doing?). He replied that he was at work in School. I could hear few voices in the background. On any other day, I would have responded that I will call him later when he is not busy and I called for no important reason. But somehow on that day, I remembered that he was unwell with cold and cough during the previous weekend. It was I, who had persuaded him to go to the hospital with me after he had ignored repetitive requests from Perima. I had told him that I also need to go for a checkup and he partly agreed to go to the hospital for me only. It was the very first time that I drove the car with him personally.
Remembering this, I asked him if he is alright now. He nodded that he is slowly getting better now. He was speaking in his usual soft voice. Not satisfied with his answer, I insisted “Why are you at work when you are supposed to be resting in home?” again. He rubbed off saying that he will leave soon. He added that he is not going to shop anyway and spends time only in his office as Correspondent in the school. I was feeling fine and thought he needed a break anyway. May be I was speaking loud or the anxious tone I had when I heard that he is in school,  he started laughing when I reminded him again “Go home and take rest soon”.  “You are the only person to have not scolded me before. But now, you have too.” He remarked. Even though I and my sisters, Bhuvana, Packia and Manicka try to advise him whenever he does something against his health, my words would always be soft and appear as an advice while theirs are mostly orders - not following them will have consequences for him. Somehow he felt that my advice that day appeared like their orders to him. We laughed together and I rephrased that it was just an advice for his own sake. He laughed again softly and said that he will leave soon. We wished good byes to each other and I told him that I will visit him the following weekend when I come home. “Seriya, Vachurava”, (Ok. I will end the call now) he spoke softly. I replied back “Ok. Perippa.” and the call ended, unknown to me or him that it would be the last we would ever speak to each other.
The next day evening at 6:14 PM, I called Bhuvana’s number and she was saying that he is currently admitted in Intensive care unit in the hospital though unknown to both of us, he might have left us already… forever. The dice played a number not in any of its faces and we stood lost.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

With only Memories to hold - My Perippa - Part I

The song is ended,
but the melody lingers on...
Irving Berlin

There is a saying that we never realize the importance of someone until we lose them. For me, I never realized that I would lose someone of such importance in my life so soon. As a matter of fact, I still deny believing that I have lost him. The way of understanding my greatest loss, is to realize that he cannot become part of my future memories and all those precious tiny moments I had with him so far are what I will have to hold on and cherish forever. The thoughts I will have; the dreams I want to share; the wisdom I long for; the blessings I need from him; would not be reaching anytime in need anymore. The days and every moment I had spent with him were memorable in every little way possible. The least I can do now is to write down the tiny droplets of the time that I remember of him, my beloved Perippa.

  1. It is hard to recall the very first memory with him. Was it visiting him in hospital when he was hospitalized for the accident that hurt his finger or was it for some other reason? Was it the day he was driving Avanti Autogear in the early morning to play shuttle badminton in Cosmopolitan Club? I can recall only his smile vaguely at both the times.
  2. I and my sister Bhuvana are crazy about non-vegetarian food right from childhood. I very well remember the days he would take us to the restaurants Sampurna or Jamuna once every week without fail. We would sit on the corner table and will order a small plate of Biryani for myself and Bhuvana and also a plate or two of Chicken 65. He would ask if we want Boneless or Bone-‘ness’ chicken and we will give our choice for the week with much thoughts. Though I never preferred bones in chicken roast, I would order that just for a change and the way it is pronounced - “ness”. I believe we continued our trips to Sampurna until they closed. I can’t remember why or when we stopped these trips though.
  3. As I mentioned in the first point, he used to play Shuttle Badminton in Cosmopolitan Club daily. During school holidays, we would accompany him to the Club and will take the unused rackets available there for our own play. Though we were never allowed to play in the courts, we used to play beside them hitting the shuttle corks higher and higher. One more interesting thing in the club is that they had playing cards tables and he would take me near the rooms to get the damaged playing cards packs for us to play in home. We had so many of those packs that we never had to worry about not having playing cards at home. I wonder if Bhuvana still has those packs, for she unlike me keeps all her games and toys very safe.
  4. My mom had told me about this memory though I do not remember it now. As we are a big family with three brothers and their families living together and not to forget their 4 sisters who live not very far from one another, our vacation trips used to be in car occupied by twice the capacity it is said to hold. Imagine 7 adults and 3 kids travelling in a 5 seat sedan or sometimes add few more as they are the only remaining ones waiting for a ride. As the car would always be over occupied, my dad would be left without any space and he will be forced to travel by bus. My mom says that I had once questioned Perippa on why my dad is always left to come by bus. The remedy he made was simple. Just squeeze my dad to sit in the already packed small car and to not leave him out in our future trips. Of course, even my mom was not happy to share the space inside the car.
  5. What was different about this less educated (Perima tells me that he never finished 10th standard in School) business oriented person is his undying interest in Computers and Electronic Gadgets. It is not far from true if we consider him to be the very first person in Town to own a Personal computer in 1980s itself. I have seen the earliest of personal computers like IBM PC XT and IBM PC AT because of him. Our initial days with the computer were in the small room made in our shop especially for keeping the computer cooled by an air-cooler machine and an air-conditioner later. The earliest memory I have in that computer room is that of a hot summer afternoon when we had brought in pillows to sleep in the room when he was working on the computer. We just loved being in the room with him and that may be one of the reasons of my passion about computers. I was brought up with computers from the early age.
  6. Fast forward a few more years and I have grown up and obtained knowledge well enough to operate a keyboard. And what about him who was least educated in Tamil let alone in English, he was off to Computer classes in the early morning and had tutors teaching him Quattro, WordStar and Dbase – the latest DBMS language at that time. If this does not astonish one, take a note that he had the GIST card installed which allowed him to type in Tamil language in his accounting software. I remember the small paper he had with the key translation for typing the complex Tamil language in the QWERTY keyboard. Within few months that paper note was not needed and he would type as a pro. He also taught me to type in Tamil and it took me years to learn it completely. As there are so many more to share about his and our adventures together with computers, I will save them for a separate post.
  7. Being a keen listener, especially on things related to computers, I would always look at the computer screen when he is busy loading the financial accounts in the system. On one such instance, he was typing a long company name in a short field and the name would not fit. He was unable to identify a suitable replacement for the long name. Watching him with wonder, I suggested changing the last word “Company” to “Co.” which made the name fit perfectly. Though a simple idea which I had seen him do so many times before, my sudden response surprised him and he was in all praise of me and was saying it to so many others. Very much proud inside my heart, I just brushed off with fake modesty that it is nothing complicated.
  8. It was my first Karate demonstration in our School and I was wearing the white Karate dress with the Orange belt that I had achieved earlier that year. The bell rang and about 10 of us assembled in the middle of the school playground ready to perform the Katas and Sparing moves in front of the school correspondent, Principal, teachers, parents and all hundreds of students. Then all of a sudden, the photographer pulled me outside the group and made me stand aside from others and asked me to pose for a photograph. Now, it is not just the photographer’s camera staring at me. There was the entire group from the stage, my teammates as well as every person in the school campus who have their eyes fixed on me. And of course, there was Perippa standing little behind the photographer smiling at me. He was the one who had asked the photographer to shoot me. Out of shock, I was not even embarrassed and silently posed back with my ready stance and ran back to join the group who were still looking at me.
  9. Though it is not that he has never scolded me, it was all but a momentary reflex of the stupid things I used to do. But there was one day during my 9th standard annual holidays. As there were special classes for the upcoming 10th standard, I was staying in Dindigul while my mom had gone to grandma’s place. It was a Friday evening and as the classes for Saturday were cancelled, I told him in our shop that I want to go to native place for the next 2 days. As he always advises to come and look after the shop during the holidays, he would not let me go. I, unknown of the trouble I was creating on myself, I kept asking him again and again adding much to his irritation. Then all of a sudden, for the first time to my knowledge he scolded hard that I am being very irresponsible for wanting to waste the holidays instead of learning something useful in shop. Never felt his anger before, I was controlling my tears and left to our other shop next door completely red-faced. Seeing my troubled face, my cousin realized that something is wrong and questioned me. My tears ran over my control and I started crying silently. He took me back to Perippa and supported me to go to my native place. But he was still not convinced and scolded me back. I just stood there weeping and went back to the other shop again. We never talked that remaining night, but when we had closed the shop after business hours, he simply asked me to get on his bike and dropped me in the bus stand to go to my grandma’s place. I had no words to say and the trip was silent and haunted me all the way. I wanted to say sorry to him for being irresponsible and for not obeying him that way. But being a scared kid, I did not speak to him. By the time, I reached my grandma’s house; he called the phone checking if I had reached safely. I think he wanted to speak with me in the phone as I heard my mom replying back that I am not near the phone and was playing in the other room. I never got to tell him this and I can never anymore.
  10. Being very close to all members of the big family, I would go to anyone’s house anytime and stay overnight whenever I would like to. The Saturdays had a routine during my school days. As the School would be a holiday, Perippa would call home in the morning asking me to come to the shop. I will drive by my bicycle and will sit next to him in the computer room and walk around the shop doing odd things. When the shop is closed for lunch, we would go to a Video rental store in his bike and I will choose an English movie that I like. We will go to his home; have lunch together and will start watching the movie. As he has the habit to sleep for few hours in the afternoon, he would sleep in the middle of the movie. I will watch the movie alone and once it ends, we will get ready for shop once again. The fun part of it is when he would ask me to narrate the story which generally involves me saying “ivan kettavan… ivan nalavan... “(he is the bad guy… he is the good guy) pointing on the screen. He would laugh at my narration and generally asks the question for most movies just for fun. The 1966 film, Born Free and 1972 film, Crazy boys of the game are his favorites and I very well remember watching and enjoying the movies with him.